Saturday, December 19, 2009

Background, Why, Goals, & the Rules of the Game

I really have to admire my mom & dad because when growing up we always sat down together for dinner. It's these memories I remember the most when I think back... The walnut wood table and the formal matching buffet. The European style salt & pepper holder with the little spoon that frustrated my dad to no end because he would end up over-salting his food but my mom really liked it. Most of all I remember being with my family, dad at one end of the table & mom at the other with us girls between them. It was like being surrounded by love.

Although this is something I said I would do with my children it seems like "life" has always gotten in the way for one reason or another. It's been something that has been getting shoved to the back burner as a "When _____ calms down" or "When _____ happens then we'll start sitting together" except ____ never seems to calm down or happen. Nowadays it seems like we only eat together for special occasions or when eating out and we are all at one table.

It has me wondering what memories will my children have of our life together when they grow up? I bet if I were to poll the kids today it would probably have something to do with my laptop or my Internet enabled cell phone, one or the other is always attached to my person at all times like a breathing apparatus or something.

Will my kids have a memory of some dish I make for them that ties into some happy memory of being together? Right now I hear about Grandpa (Papa) John's steak or stew, Auntie Kelly's various awesome dishes like her London Broil or Grandma Jeannie's Porcupine Meatballs, but I really don't get a request from them to make anything special except for Stuffed Grapevine leaves on Holiday's. The kid's pull to these dishes goes as far as one of them mentioning that Papa John can Fed Ex his stew to us and I should ask him to. (Sorry Roxanne, the only thing the kids remember about your cooking is me sending them downstairs when you made toast to ensure you weren't setting the kitchen on fire.)

GOAL - To sit down at the table with the kids for one meal each day. Also, to minimize eating out and to use our packed pantry more.

I guess I got the inspiration for this goal by seeing a friend of mine who gets off of work, drives over an hour home, then cooks dinner & sits down with the kids for dinner. I am not so unrealistic to think that I am going to single handily cook each meal nor do I want to because I think it's good for the kids to learn how to cook for self-reliance later in life, but I do think I can manage to sit down with them for 30 minutes each day without any outside distractions from the phone or email etc.

In addition, I want to use up a lot of the food I already have stocked up that is over-taking the limited storage I have at the new house. I'd like to be able to use the cabinets in the downstairs kitchen for storing seldom used small kitchen appliances... like the mixer etc.


1. It can be any meal of the day... Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner but preferably Dinner.
2. If on a weekend we manage to get in two meals in the same day then we are allowed a credit for one day's grace in the future.
3. Eating out will be minimized as much as possible. Also, shopping for new food will be minimized to use up more of what we already have on hand.
4. The table must be set for each meal.
5. If one or more kids are not home due to a sports/school event or spending the night at a friend's house then the meal will be with whomever is home on that day/time. If all three are gone then the day is "graced" by default.
6. If mom is out of town for work the day is "graced" and does not need to be made up.
7. If mom is running errands or at another friend's house for any reason then the days meal will be made up on a future date by adding breakfast or lunch.
6. In the event that mom gets asked out on a date that day's sit down meal is automatically "graced" as sort of a celebration of a miracle in itself. (Clarification: it has to be a date not just at a friend's house for dinner etc)

We'll be sharing photos, recipes, and experiences etc throughout the year. At the end of the year it will be interesting to see if it really makes a difference in our life together as a family or if it's just some hyped up memory from my childhood or my "Jamie's world should look like this" list that is always around in my head.

I hope you stay tuned for more... however it turns out, it will be an exciting adventure into uncharted territory :-)



  1. Jamie, I think this is fantastic. If you want to send me a list of items you have in your pantry, I can come up with easy recipes for the kids or you to make. I can also be available to answer questions if the kids are cooking. Love, Kelly

  2. Thank you for the support Kelly. Have I mentioned lately that you really are a great older sister yo have around?

    I'll put together a current list and email you. Crock pot meals would be good too since the kids have such long school days up here. What number should the kids call you on... the bat line?

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Try the office backline first, then my cell, then the secret bat line.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Roxanne please share the recipe I have a ton of flour to use up.

  7. Third time's a charm for my comment (deleted earlier due to a typo):

    I know - I stopped cooking during law school so it isn't surprising your kids don't remember anything special that I make. However, if you still lived here, your kids would be hooked on my No-Knead Bread like CRACK!

  8. No-Knead Bread Recipe: Here is the link - of course, it was published by the New York Times so you may be run out of town if you try to make it. You know, according to you all us liberals are too lazy and kneading bread causes carpal tunnel syndrome and all cuz we just want the government to take care of us...

    A word of warning though, make sure you have a stainless steel knob on your dutch oven. The plastic ones melt at about 425 degrees. You can even use a stainless steel cabinet knob as a replacement if necessary.

  9. Ok Roxanne, I know I'm not too bright according to you liberals... I'm a redneck living in hickville but I don't see a link in your post.

  10. Jamie - LOL - Rox - where'e the damn link? = )

  11. Okay, next time you call me and I tell you that I'm tired and can't get on my computer until the next day, I really mean it!

    Here is the link:

  12. Standard liberal response... blame someone else for your failure... :-)

  13. I think you are on to something. I watch TV when I eat. It feels like I am married to the news anchor at the Albuquerque station.

  14. Great Idea Jamie! xo

  15. I just wanted to bring some of my friends notes over from facebook so they are recorded for memory:

    Sharon Berg sounds a little like Julie & Julia... lol
    Sat at 8:32pm ·

    Sharon Berg no, really, I think it's a great idea and a lost art these days... I have very fond memories of our dinners at the table... every night, 5 o'clock....
    Sat at 8:33pm ·

    Jamie Eberle Maybe the blogging and having a goal part but I have no intent of cooking all the meals myself. I'd just like to communicate more with the kids.
    Sat at 8:41pm ·

    Roxanne Eberle Neat idea. Call me tomorrow so we can fix something in your intro.
    Sat at 10:05pm ·

    Hunter Borer Good Luck mom i hope u can do this.
    Sat at 10:28pm ·

    Sandi Gibson Awesome!!! They may fight it at first, but before long they will really love it and the times you HAVE to miss, they will feel like something important was missing that day! I PROMISE!!!
    Sat at 10:33pm ·

    Roxanne Eberle Hunter, be sure with your siblings to be supportive of this: to help cook, set the table, clear up, etc. If you all do this together it makes it workable and is all part of the experience.
    Sat at 10:36pm ·

    Hunter Borer ok aslong as maddie does none of the cooking. because she can screw up spagetti and that is hard to do.
    Sat at 10:59pm ·

    Roxanne Eberle Well, it's a good thing that you are a good cook. I'm sure Maddie would be great at setting the table nicely.
    Sun at 10:31am ·

    Hunter Borer possibly
    Sun at 10:38am ·

    Hunter Borer and its not that i am a good cook it is that she can mess up cooking spagetti and if u can do that you do not belong in a kitchen
    Sun at 10:39am ·

    Leisa Ashbaugh Big project. Sounds great - good luck.
    Sun at 8:11am ·

    Roxanne Eberle Yeah, be careful you don't spend even more time on your computer that your project fails. For example, you may want to find some way to come up with conversation starters at the table so the kids enjoy dinner. Plus, be sure to tell everyone, including Ray, what time dinner time is at your house so they know not to call you during that hour. Dinner will be more successful if it is at the same time each night.
    Sun at 11:13am ·

  16. A few more comments brought over from Facebook to keep for the record:

    Becky Sue Larson Hettman A very ambitious goal indeed! I, for one, am a big supporter of dinner together. We do it a lot around here. Good luck and go for it girlfriend! You can do it!
    December 19 at 7:13pm ·

    Jamie Eberle Thanks for your support and confidence Becky!
    December 19 at 8:43pm ·

    Roxanne Eberle I know - I stopped cooking during law school so it isn't surprising your kids don't remember anything special that I make. However, if you still lived here, your kids would be hooked on my No-Knead Bread like CRACK!
    December 19 at 10:25pm ·

  17. Hi Jamie,

    I love this idea! Good luck to you and I'm with you about wanting my chickies to grow-up and have happy memories about their childhoods. Although I meal-plan each week, make dinner at home most nights, we don't sit down together at the table. :( We just do buffet style and eat in the living room. I might have to consider at least trying to sit and the dining table at least once a week?

    Good luck to you and thanks for "following" me. :)